On this date, International Pride Day, we, as members of a company that wholeheartedly embraces Diversity and Inclusion, call to action the people who should provide traction to the cultural change that is needed for the expansion of D&I within corporations: the leadership.
We have learned, from our founder, and from an early stage that “to lead is to consistently beat goals, together as a team, and to do it right”. As for “consistently beating goals”, our method has proven to be the best allied to leadership, but it also implies that “doing it right” should be the reflection of a healthy working environment, providing the adequate tools for staff.
For those who identify as LGBTQIA+, there is an extra nuance to this principle. This is because people who feel comfortable to be who they are in the workplace are 29%2 more productive. But half1 of the LGBTQIA+ employees in Brazil do not find this inclusive environment, and we are in a country that is “champion” in homophobia at the workplace, where almost 70%2 have heard some type of prejudicial joke– in an overt or implied manner. It is not only necessary, as far as their responsibility goes, but also pressing, that leaders assure that a healthy workplace be part of an integration scenario.
When we talk about openly LGBTQIA+ leadership, the advantages are even greater: improved performance levels, corporate social responsibility and workforce utilization quality can be noticed as well as a better fulfillment of HR guidelines3. Despite clear benefits being achieved for the company (in productivity and commitment) and employees (in their sense of belonging and being respected), it is still possible to observe 33%4 of companies having restrictions to hiring LBGTQIA+ individuals for leadership positions. In the Fortune 500 list, less than 0.5%5 of leaders openly identify as LGBTQIA+.
The leader has as the challenge of always providing the best example. It is through them that the team is going to understand what the company culture is and how things work. Being an LGBTQIA+ leader allows me to show the team the importance of being yourself, and that being who you are is not going to harm you in any way. It is all the more relevant that we, as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, show that we too can take on roles and positions which we, historically, would not have been seen taking on.
Senior Consultant and Project Leader
And therein lies the problem: The transformation of the scenario for LGBTQIA+ individuals in corporations requires that they should be able to see the example set by the leaders who, in turn, should be flag bearers of this issues as allies or members of this community.
We invite all for a final reflection: just as in other cultural changes that have taken place in the corporate world, the importance of leadership is fundamental. Therefore, as corporations, we should foster the creation of tools that promote an inclusive and safe environment, so that people feel respected and achieve their maximum potential. That is, for example, to make sure that performance evaluation, hiring and job promotion processes have no bias, allowing for LGBTQIA+ individuals to ascend to leadership positions. Or still, that leaders are encouraged to be allies or visible members so that, the sad statistics are no longer the catalyst for D&I in corporations and in society.
As a leader, I strive to transform the hard learning I´ve endured throughout my life, of facing embarrassing and difficult prejudice situations against homosexuals, into something that may contribute to the growth of people. I think, however, that the responsibility of promoting respectful and ethical behavior in corporate relationships is not connected to my own sexual orientation. I believe this responsibility should fall on the shoulders of all leaders, regardless if they are LGBTQIA+ or not. This is a fight that all should embrace! I see with great hope and joy the movement led by the new generation for the improvement of human relationships, in all its aspects. However, there is still a huge gap to be closed, especially by those individuals who have not been raised to live in a more ethical and humane world. Any manifestations that display resistance to this more inclusive world should be regarded as an unmissable opportunity to take up this fight.
Here at Falconi we understand the importance of the leader to take up this stance and to be backed up by our D&I policies. Check the tips to become a model leader.
Stonewall6 an LGBTQIA+ NGO in the UK, lists ten tips for a model leadership, and three particularly important ones point out to:
- Recognize the importance of model leadership. LGBTQIA+ help attract talent. They show that you take diversity seriously. They challenge conventional perceptions, create stronger bonds to customers and bring about unique perceptions to the decision making process.
- Role models help show the way to others. It is much harder being what you cannot see. If there are no openly LGBTQIA+ role models in the workplace, how can others be sure that they will be able to get a hold on the career ladder? Visible role models exemplify corporate credibility in terms of diversity.
- Corporations need such role models in all organizational levels. People on top may defend the cause and set the direction. Managers can create an inclusive and supportive work environment. Those who are beginning their careers may benefit form having role models that show they can be out of the closet from day one in the job.
- ‘Proud At Work’ – LinkedIn Study
- ‘LGBT Diversity: Show Me The Business Case’- Out Now Global LGBT2030 Study
- ‘Examining the Impact of LGBT Senior Leadership Representation on Business Outcomes’ – Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Survey
- ‘Demitindo Preconceitos – Por que as empresas precisam sair do armário?’ – Santo Caos
- ‘Como uma liderança LGBT pode ser lucrativa?’ – Forbes
- ‘Role Models: being yourself – sexual orientation and the workplace’ – Stonewall